— CHAPTER 1—
Lizzy O’Malley opened the front door before Kym Park even reached the top step. “Give me a minute. I’m almost ready.”
It was nine o’clock on a sunny Saturday morning. A good time to catch up on sleep. But not for Lizzy and Kym. They were going to meet a beekeeper.
Kym held up a finger to her father, who was parked in the driveway. One minute, she signaled. Kym entered the living room.
Lizzy’s twin brother, Connor, was lounging on the couch. He was awake, but barely. There was still sleep in his eyes and a bowl of dry cereal on his lap.
“Hey, Connor,” Kym said. “Do you want to come too?”
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“My parents’ friend is a beekeeper,” Kym said. “We’re driving out to his farm for the day. I’m super excited.”
“Bees? No, thanks,” Connor said. “I don’t like getting stung. Besides, I already have plans for today. I have a thing.”
“Yeah, Deon and I are . . . well, it’s top secret,” Connor said, holding up a hand. “I promised Deon I wouldn’t tell a soul.”
Kym stepped closer. “Come on, what’s the big secret?”
“Sorry, but I’ve taken a solemn oath,” Connor explained. “There’s no way you can make me tell. Wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me. Not now, not ever.”
Kym shrugged. “Sure, whatever.”
Lizzy hurried into the room with a backpack slung over her shoulder. “I brought a package of Oreos,” she said. “I figured we might need them. You know, in case of an emergency.”
“Not cool!” Connor protested, tossing a pillow in Lizzy’s direction.
“Tough cookies,” Lizzy said, grinning at her twin.
Kym reached for the door. “Catch you next time, Connor.”
“Okay, okay,” Connor said, rising from his seat. “If you’re going to make a big deal out of it, Kym, I’ll tell you.”
“No, I’m good,” Kym said.
Connor followed the two girls to the doorway. “Okay, if you absolutely have to know, Deon and I are making our own superhero comic book. It’s going to be a really big deal and we’re probably going to become millionaires, maybe zillionaires. It could even be a movie. I’m just saying. There. I told you. Happy now?”
“You are awesome at keeping secrets,” Kym teased.
A car horn tooted. Mr. Park wasn’t the kind of dad who liked to be kept waiting.
“Let’s go,” Kym said to Lizzy. They climbed into the back seat. Kym’s parents sat up front.
Connor called after them, “Remember, don’t tell anyone! It’s top secret!” Connor waved goodbye and closed the door. He didn’t understand why anybody would want to go visit a bunch of bees. It struck him as kind of weird. And possibly painful.
The drive to the farm took the girls into the rural countryside. The suburban houses, packed tightly together like crayons in a box, gradually fell away. They first drove on a highway, then turned onto a narrow road. The land opened up. Kym noticed more trees, more space, and, strangely, more sky. Her father pointed out a hawk soaring in the wind, wings motionless. They saw silos and barns and gray stone walls. The early April day was warm and inviting. It felt to Lizzy as if the whole world was a flower raising its petals to the sun. Kym pointed out a dozen cows standing by a barbed-wire fence. The animals chewed slowly—as if lost in thought—and with round eyes watched the car drive past.
“I love cows,” Lizzy murmured. “There’s so much emotion in their eyes.”
“Yeah,” Kym said. She knew exactly what Lizzy meant.
“I wonder what they think about?” Lizzy said.
“They do seem thoughtful,” Mr. Park mused. “Philosophy, perhaps. They contemplate the meaning of life.”
“Or cow pies,” Kym snorted.
“We’re getting close,” Mrs. Park noted from the front seat. “It’s good to get out into the country, isn’t it?”
“It’s beautiful,” Lizzy agreed. “Thanks for taking us.”
“It’s actually not that far from where we live,” Mrs. Park said. “But it feels like a million miles away.”
The car slowed and Mr. Park pointed to the left. “Look, girls—wild turkeys.”
“Cool,” Lizzy and Kym murmured, craning their necks to see. The turkeys were dark and surprisingly large. They walked on skinny legs, pecking in the high grass.
“Benjamin Franklin argued that the turkey should be named the official bird of the United States,” Mr. Park explained. “It lost out to the bald eagle.”
“Good call,” Kym said.
The car turned onto a dirt driveway.
“Here we are, girls. The Bee’s Knees.”